Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Getting Old and Giving Up Pt.1 (aka My Nan the Orgasm Addict)

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So, no more Hunter S. Thompson.
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Shame.
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I can just imagine the turmoil and anguish he must have gone through before doing the deed. Pacing up and down. His mind wracked with confusion and doubt, and always that question ringing between his ears …
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Which of his twenty-two available, fully-loaded and meticulously maintained firearms was he going to use to blow his brains out?
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I am a fan of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I was also, and still remain, a fan of Hunter S. Thompson. Admittedly, everything he wrote after Fear and Loathing was rubbish but he is that rare example of a subversive figure who maintained his edge, even after he had achieved success and fame.
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OK, he was too smacked out of his face for the last thirty years to write anything worthwhile, but he did withdraw to a compound filled with peacocks, vulture statues, drugs, hard liquor, dynamite and firearms. He didn't die young but he did the next best thing. Big time.
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Nope, no toilet paper commercial voice-overs, game show presenting or celebrity telethons for Hunter.
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Hunter S. Thompson I salute you.
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It's hard to retain the fire of youth as you get older. Years ago I did some voluntarily work with disabled grannies. We would take them away on holiday for a few weeks and give their family carers a well-deserved break. We wouldn’t actually take the grannies very far from home. We would drive round in a long loop for a couple of hours and put them up in specially equipped residential facilities, usually no more than 10 miles from where we first collected them. But they were none the wiser. Bless …
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The reason why I mention this is that the sitting rooms in these places were always well-stocked with ancient, granny favourite records suitable for group sing alongs; after dinner and a small glass of sherry all round. Even by the admittedly sedate standards of the 1940s these records were dull; dull and slow. I would often wonder what my generation would be like when it was their turn. Would our tastes change as we got older? Would we want to listen to increasingly easy listening music as our eardrums, brains and bladders rotted with age? Or would we still be singing along to the punk and new wave hits of the 1970s and 1980s, jiggling away on our commodes whilst the kids looking after us were nodding away from the sheer tedium of it all …
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'Here you are Stef, shall I put on a record? Would you like to listen to some Stranglers? How about Bring on the Nubiles? You like that don’t you? I know. Let's listen to Orgasm Addict. That's your favourite. Come on everybody, sing along …'
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Well you tried it out for once,
found it alright for kicks.
but then you found out
it's a habit that sticks
you're an orgasm addict
you're an orgasm addict
sneakin' in the back door with dirty magazines
and your mother wants to know
what are those stains on your jeans
you're an orgasm addict
you're an orgasm addict
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Twenty years later, I and many others, still like the hard-edged, thrashy records we liked back then. Nope, rather than my record tastes atrophying over the years it would appear to be the popular music industry that is dying on its arse. Records made fifteen or twenty years ago still stand up well against more recent competition and, perversely, often sound fresher and more original than a lot of the stuff being sold today.
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When those grannies of old used to complain about modern music being rubbish, their opinion was based on a lifetime of listening almost exclusively to Mafia-connected crooners wurbling to a big band backing. Now some years later, with the benefit of almost 50 years of rock, pop, blues, reggae, ska, funk, techno and all the rest to call upon, a more objective opinion can be reached. Most contemporary music really is crap. And so dull that even my old stable of grannies could probably listen to it without having heart attacks. That's if any of them were still alive that is.
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A curious role reversal seems to be taking place. I can quite easily picture a time in the future when 80 year old pensioners, sitting in bacofoil covered anti-gravity wheelchairs, are slagging off their grandchildren for listening to records that are slow, tedious and rubbish and begging them to put on something with a stronger base line.
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But more of that a little later …
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4 comments:

Ian said...

There is a business opportunity here - instead of old people's homes, old people's compounds could be set up, which are filled with peacocks, vulture statues, drugs, liquor, ammunition and firearms (and perhaps a small number of call girls). Those that choose to end it all early and ease the burden on the state's finances may then do so at their convenience, after a bit of indulgence, and can take some of the others with them at the same time. The compound owner would then invoice a fee (say 10%) from the government, calculated as:

10% x (yearly cost to the government of keeping an old person alive) x (estimated number of extra years they would have lived otherwise)

plus, in the case of a multi-person event, eg an explosion, the same amount for each additional person that disappears. A small provision for actuarial fees would also need to be made against the total fee.

Stef said...

Yes, I've already thought of a similiar scheme which would involve being paid a double pension if you consent to be murdered by the State when you turn 75. I've not mentioned it before it case Tony Blair's policy unit came across it by accident during a google search and took it seriously ...

wangateur said...

I will miss him ... BIG HUG for Juan, Jen, Willam and Anita… who will never be able to fill the hole left in there lives by the man in spite of the myth and legend attached to his life..

I am a long time friend of Juan we went to the Aspen Community School together I have been using the blogs to try to send a message of love to him and the family but I know he is totally swamped because of the media attention at Owl farm and we need to let him know that we care for Him, Anita and the whole family in this time of tragedy while respecting his privacy

Let's see if we can get the word out ...
He was first the MAN….
He became the myth and legend
To me he was several people.
He was my best friend’s dad although he always called his dad Hunter
(At Juan’s wedding he said to a friend about me “Look there’s another little bastard I raised that turned out OK”)
He was Hunter S. Thompson retiring shy southerner who loved guns and his freedom
And
He was the Dr. Gonzo who we all know who would be in your face and try to kill you if you attempted to try to take away his guns, drugs, freedom, privacy and the god given right to go into an explosive tirade about it.

To be such a person required him to have a unique emotional support structure. These people now need our support, love and understanding in this time of grief.

Bradley Laboe

Stef said...

Bradley

I wish you all the best with your efforts, particularly with supporting Juan (He found the body didn't he? That must have been awful)

I didn't know the man but the myth is strong and one that I buy into wholesale. I stand by the first half of my post - he was a true individual and, as such, represents a dying breed ...